search
top

Gun Groups & Secret Societies

NRA created a new policy this weekend that no member is allowed to take photos in their membership meetings.

No selfies that tell friends and family, “I’m actively part of a gun rights organization!”

No opportunity to share that they are part of the 5 million some number strong for the Second Amendment.

No grassroots-led effort to say, “this is us, this wonderfully diverse crowd with people age 1 to 101.”

No photo reports from the membership about great awards such as oldest and youngest life members in attendance.

All ended in favor of becoming a secret society where active participation and documentation are shunned.

Why? So that Wayne LaPierre won’t have to see anymore embarrassing videos released anymore of members who disagree with him.

I suspect this means there’s zero chance of live streamed coverage again, despite that being a staple of previous meetings to encourage more engagement among members from all walks of life who couldn’t make the trek out to member meetings. They certainly have gone without it for 2 years despite the fact that every other group I’ve ever been part of has used this time to expand what they live stream to members.

Granted, there’s also the PR angle that NRA likely doesn’t want it well documented how empty their meetings are – which wouldn’t be the case if they weren’t actively trying to restrict access. And, from a PR angle, it does also keep out photos that show just how little demographic (age, race, gender) there really is at NRA events I’ve attended, despite far more diversity in the shooting sports and the larger gun community.

But keeping out those who would be supporters and want to be visible supporters doesn’t help the cause, it doesn’t help membership, and it doesn’t help the organization.

They can’t tell people they should brand themselves, “I’m the NRA” and then turn around and tell people to keep everything a secret.

People can’t share their excitement about news released in the Board meetings anymore because they seize phones. Once upon a time, Sebastian & I were the only ones to report on attendance in any way that got attention, and we did so from phones inside the meeting. Then they said no phones. And the reports were…rather creatively done. Sometimes with the help of someone who was allowed to have a phone and frequently with one of us outside of the room while the other wrote down the numbers and wildly flapped an arm out the door to get it posted.

If anything, this type of secrecy about even the basics of being a member of an association like NRA makes me want to end mandatory NRA membership at local gun clubs. One of the biggest issues we battle on the ground with new gun owners is that the younger ones view everything as a transaction. We are now teaching in our orientation some basic concepts of civil society and how one participates in the kinds of groups – like gun clubs – that make up our community social structure.

NRA trying to sell themselves as strictly an organization average people buy a card to say, “I’m in the club,” while simultaneously trying to keep people from actually participating as individual members is not helping that education. There are plenty of other groups that gun owners can turn to for those types of transactions. If NRA doesn’t want to be different and special, then why should anyone bother? Clearly, based on their ridiculous decline in participation in the association’s business, it seems that many of their own voting members are also saying it’s not really worthwhile to truly be a member.

Lowest NRA Participation

We’ve reached a record low in NRA member participation since I started keeping stats from one of the early NRA meetings I attended back in 2006.

There haven’t been this few voters since 2011, even though they reportedly sent a record high number of ballots in 2021.

It would seem that people are checking out and tuning out of NRA as a group worth participating in, even if they technically pay the dues. Why pay the dues if they are checked out of the group? Probably for most of the reason I know most members locally – some gun ranges mandate membership. Or people just think it’s something they should do even if they don’t really follow what NRA is up to.

The big question is whether these signs that their own members are tuning NRA out indicate they will tune them out for midterm elections and other key action items. I’ll be honest, I’ve never tracked NRA election participation to success on initiatives outside of internal politics, so that would be interesting.

Consider this – more voting members were interested in bylaws & Grover Norquist than in this year’s candidates.

In an average year since 2006, 6.2% of voting members care enough to vote. This year, that’s 3.8%. In an average year, 117,062 voting members care enough to cast ballots. This year, only 97,899 did. In an average year, the top vote getter pulls – on average – 92,519 votes. This year, the top vote getter pulled in fewer votes than the “first loser” did several years.

The percent of ballots that had the top winner and last winner on them was lower this year than past, so that also indicates a diversity of voting interests, or more bullet voting.

The only sitting member most reformers bullet voted for on the main cast of characters was Buz Mills, and he came in 6th. I’m not in a position to pull my past election reports to see how that compares to his past performances. Not that it matters since he resigned anyway.

Which…by the way…despite the public resignation, NRA didn’t actually declare him resigned from the board and therefore didn’t have to fill his seat before this board meeting. Odd.

UPDATE: NRA In Danger has a report from on the ground that said this was basically the worst attended meeting even in light of tighter COVID restrictions last year. They also managed to find the local newspaper that NRA was using for their official notice, but that notice did not run in time. The first notice they found from early September was for the Houston meeting, not the one they just had. And based on the publication schedule, they would have had just enough time to run it for 3 issues if the next two issues that should have already been released had it.

How these leaders keep claiming success when there are record numbers of gun owners and yet membership is dropping and participation in the longer term members is in free fall…I just don’t understand.

top